DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings are doing what they can to cling onto mathematical hopes of extending their playoff streak to 26.
Andreas Athanasiou scored 1:52 into overtime on a breakaway, lifting the Red Wings to a 3-2 win Sunday over the reeling Minnesota Wild.
Detroit, the Atlantic Division’s last-place team, started the day 14 points behind Boston for the final wild-card spot with two weeks left in the regular season. The Red Wings are 4-1-1 in their last six games after a 23-game stretch in which they won just six games.
“We’re just trying to play hard and win the rest of our games,” Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “The guys have a lot of pride.”
Jimmy Howard made the game-winning goal possible by making the last of his 24 saves in overtime. Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist got the rebound near Howard and made a long pass to set up Athanasiou, who faked out Devan Dubnyk with a move to his backhand before flipping the puck in the net.
“He’s fast and he’s got unreal quick hands at that full speed,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s hard to defend.”
The Wild played well defensively, holding Detroit to just three shots in the third period and 19 overall, but lost for the eighth time in nine games and dropped to 3-10-1.
“That’s the best game we’ve played in a month,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Even though the Wild also lost Saturday, they clinched a spot in the playoffs later in the night when Los Angeles lost to the New York Rangers. The Wild extended their postseason streak to five in Boudreau’s first season behind their bench much earlier than in previous seasons.
“In the last four years, we’ve been scrambling at the end of the season just to get in,” Minnesota forward Zach Parise said. “Now, it’s almost as if we had such a comfortable lead, we threw it on cruise control for a bit. Now, there’s different parts of our game that are lacking.
“We’ve got to start putting pressure on ourselves and start demanding a little more of ourselves to win some games.”
The Wild had two leads, but couldn’t hold off the Red Wings.
Detroit’s Tomas Tatar tied the game at 2-all early in the third on a power play and teammate Mike Green scored a game-tying goal in the last minute of the first period.
Dubnyk finished with 16 saves and Eric Staal and Nate Prosser scored for Minnesota.
Staal scored the first goal, on a breakaway midway through the first and Nate Prosser scored for the first time in two-plus years for the Wild late in the second.
The Wild, though, couldn’t score one more to get a win.
“There’s a lot of guys that have gone dry,” Boudreau said. “We had a couple guys that are pretty dry that had chances and one of these days. They’re going to start going in and we all hope that is soon.”